2 Fugitive Teens Arrested in Professors’ Killings


The flight of a pair of Vermont teenagers wanted in the savage killings of two Dartmouth College professors ended at dawn Monday at the Flying J truck stop in New Castle, Ind.

Robert Tulloch, 17, and James Parker, 16, were apprehended when Henry County, Ind., Sheriff’s Sgt. William Ward heard a trucker say on his citizens band radio that he was driving two boys who were looking for a ride to California.

“Why don’t you drop them off at the fuel desk and someone will pick them up,” suggested Ward, who was monitoring CB radio traffic in hopes of locating the fugitive teens.


Tulloch and Parker, subjects of a nationwide manhunt, were picked up without incident at the truck stop on Interstate 70.

The slayings of Half and Susanne Zantop cast a pall over a quiet college town where crime of any measure is virtually unknown. The Zantops’ deaths marked only the third case of homicide in Hanover in 50 years.

New Hampshire authorities have charged the teenagers with the Jan. 27 slaying of the popular couple. With multiple wounds to their heads and chests, the Zantops were fatally stabbed in their home on a secluded lane not far from the Dartmouth campus in Hanover. A dinner guest discovered the couple’s bodies in their study in a pool of blood.

The mystery surrounding the case attracted national attention as state, local and federal officials kept a tight lid on their investigation, consistently refusing to offer details other than the mode of the Zantops’ deaths. The names of Tulloch and Parker did not surface as suspects until almost three weeks after the slayings.

Nor would state Atty. Gen. Philip T. McLaughlin speculate Monday about a motive in a case he stressed was now moving from the investigatory to the prosecutorial phase.

At a televised news conference Monday, McLaughlin said state investigators were en route to Indiana to meet with the suspects. He called their capture “a turning point” in the case.


As investigators cast a wide net in their search for the Zantops’ killers, the two boys caught their attention because one recently bought a military-style knife on the Internet. Police have not identified the murder weapon, but they also have not denied reports that the Zantops’ killer used a knife with a 13-inch blade.

Kelly Ayotte, an assistant New Hampshire attorney general, said “forensic evidence”--possibly the distinctive shape of wounds on the Zantops’ bodies--led them to Tulloch and Parker.

In a makeshift lab set up in a trailer in Chelsea--a town of 1,300 about 25 miles from Hanover--Tulloch and Parker last week voluntarily provided fingerprints. Almost immediately afterward, the pair disappeared.

Tall and thin with clean-cut looks, both boys were among 325 kindergarten through high school-aged students in the town’s only school. Tulloch, an honor student, last year was elected student council president. An avid debater, he also played soccer and once was voted “Most Likely to Take Over the World.”

A Chelsea classmate said he and Parker were inseparable. A jazz fan who played the bass, Parker was known as the class clown, always cracking jokes.

But both boys also had brushes with local authorities as suspects in at least one breaking-and-entering case. They were never charged.

Tulloch is the son of a home health worker and a woodworker known for his Windsor chairs. Parker’s father is a carpenter and his mother teaches racquetball.

Calls to the Tulloch and Parker homes went unanswered. But Robert Tulloch’s mother, Diane Tulloch, told the student newspaper at Dartmouth College that “we love our son and we want the press to know that he’s innocent until proven guilty.”

The two were gone from Chelsea in the days after the killings. They returned briefly, only to leave again. They told friends they scrapped plans to go rock climbing in Colorado because Tulloch had an infected wound on his leg.

Tulloch said he cut his leg on a maple tree sap bucket while walking in the woods. Sap is seldom drawn at this time of the year, and most climbing rocks in Colorado currently are covered with snow.

After they were fingerprinted, the boys took off in a silver Audi belonging to Parker’s mother. The snow-covered vehicle was discovered Sunday at a truck stop in Sturbridge, Mass. Restaurant workers there recalled seeing the boys, wearing backpacks, approach truckers for rides.

Late Sunday night, the pair were spotted in New Jersey, also at a truck stop.

Their arrest about 40 miles east of Indianapolis brought scant consolation to the Zantop family, McLaughlin said Monday.

“For the daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Zantop, time stopped Jan. 27,” the attorney general said. “I sense this is small comfort for the losses they have sustained.”

Widely known in academic circles, earth sciences professor Half Zantop, 62, and 55-year-old Susanne Zantop, chair of Dartmouth’s German language department, had friends around the world. Both published extensively and were involved in humanitarian efforts. They were known to open their home to anyone, and friends now wonder whether that welcoming quality cost them their lives.

Tulloch and Parker each have been charged as adults with two counts of first-degree murder. The punishment for that charge is life without parole, but under New Hampshire law they could face the death penalty if both premeditation and a special circumstance are found. Special circumstances include murder for hire and murder of especially vulnerable victims, such as those sexually assaulted or kidnapped.

McLaughlin said Monday that if Tulloch and Parker waive extradition, they could be returned to New England within a few days.